It’s not every homeowner who designs a remodel around their furniture. But Alison Cushing had inherited a large collection of midcentury modern (MCM) furniture from her grandparents, who had been living in London, and she was inspired to bring that same MCM design aesthetic to her home in Cumberland. Characterized by clean and simple lines, purposeful forms, pops of color, and the use of dark natural woods among other traits, the MCM look is pervasive in this new kitchen, which was designed by Kristen LaValle at Arcadia Kitchen and Bath in Scarborough. Walnut is the dominant wood, white countertops are sleek and spare, knobs are nonexistent, and splashes of bold color are sprinkled throughout—in gold pendant “Flowerpot” lamps by Verner Panton, red Smeg appliances, a red womb chair, and a selection of colorful artwork. In keeping with the MCM aesthetic, the kitchen is small yet efficient. Kristen warned Alison that cabinet space would be sparse, but Alison, a minimalist at heart, didn’t mind. “We’re empty nesters now,” she says, “we don’t need a lot of storage, and I liked the idea of simplifying.” But just because the kids don’t live at home, she wasn’t opposed to integrating a bit of playfulness into the new design, seen in a few acquisitions from Etsy, backsplash tile that is both shiny and matte, and musings about adding a few “very groovy” 1970s icons such as a lava lamp.
Alison sought Kristen’s expertise on a bathroom remodel as well. “The original design had steps up to the shower and a sunken tub straight out of 1984,” says Kristen. The remodel features elements of MCM design: glass shower doors with sturdy hardware, sea foam–green shower tiles, and a couple of treasured furniture pieces, with a bit of whimsy tossed in—a beaded chandelier, star-patterned floor tile, a waterfall, and more. About the project, Alison says with a laugh: “I sure didn’t walk into Arcadia and say I wanted a modern farmhouse!” To which Kristen beams. It is perhaps every designer’s dream to work with a client who, even if they desire a modern farmhouse, insists that it reflect their personality, passions, and in Alison’s case, several treasured possessions.